Stew Leonard's

Stew Leonard's
Industry Grocery store
Founded 1969 (1969) (Norwalk, Connecticut)
Headquarters Norwalk, Connecticut
Key people
Stew Leonard, Jr., President & CEO
Products Food
Revenue $341 million (2011)[1]
Number of employees

Stew Leonard's is a chain of five supermarkets in Connecticut and New York which Ripley's Believe It or Not! deemed "The World's Largest Dairy", with Fortune magazine listing Stew Leonard's as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For".[2]

Founded in 1969 with seven employees in Norwalk, Connecticut, there are currently three stores in Connecticut and two in New York.[3][4]


The New York Times called Stew Leonard's the "Disneyland of Dairy Stores."[5] The stores are not set up like traditional grocery stores; one must walk through the entire store (though there are short cuts). As customers walk through a path of aisles, they are greeted by different employees dressed up in costumes and by animatronic characters called the "Farm Fresh Five" that perform songs and dance. The stores also feature petting zoos and outdoor cafes in the warmer months and sell a variety of prepared meals year round.

"Anyone who comes from Connecticut or thereabouts knows this landmark chain of grocery stores where mechanized cows sing and roosters crow," according to a writer for the Sun-Sentinel of Florida.[6]

The store is also known for its customer-service policy, which greets shoppers at each store's entrance etched into a three-ton rock:[7]

  1. The customer is always right.
  2. If the customer is ever wrong, re-read rule #1.

Tax fraud

In 1993, Stew Leonard Sr. was convicted of committing tax fraud through an elaborate scheme including short-weighting to divert more than $17.1 million in cash register receipts over a ten-year period.[8][9][10] The fraud involved a computer program designed to skim off sales. The fraud was directed by Stew Leonard Sr. in concert with the company's CFO and store manager. Skimmed cash was placed in bundles in Leonard Sr.'s office fireplace, to be later moved offshore or disguised as gifts.[11] [12] Leonard Sr. was caught in June 1991 carrying $80,000 cash en route to the island of Saint Martin.[11][13]

Stew Leonard Sr. plead guilty to the charges and in 1993 was sentenced to 52 months in prison.[14][15] He ultimately served 44 months before being released in June 1997.[16]


  1. 1 2 "Stew Leonard's Store Fact Sheet" (PDF). January 16, 2012. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  2. "100 Best Companies to work for 2011". Fortune Magazine. Fortune Magazine. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  3. Stern, Neil. "The Magic Of Stew Leonard's Dairy Comes To Long Island". Forbes. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  4. Zeveloff, Julie. "13 reasons Stew Leonard's is actually the best grocery store in America". Business Insider. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  5. Miller,Bryan (June 22, 1983). "In Norwalk, A 'Disneyland' Dairy Store". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  6. Hartz-Seeley, Deborah (December 17, 2007). "A trip north takes me to Stew Leonard's that reminds me of Penn Dutch". Retrieved December 20, 2007.
  7. "The History of Stew Leonard's". Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  8. Steinberg, Jaques. "Connecticut Store Owner Sentenced in Tax Fraud". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  9. Fritz, Sara. "A Sour End to Dairy Scam : Retailing Genius Stew Leonard May Face Jail for Hiding $17.1 Million From the IRS in a Tax Fraud Case". The Los Angele Times. The Los Angele Times. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  10. Back From The Brink: Everybody knew grocer Stew Leonard as America's king of customer service-crowned by none other than Tom Peters. But Leonard went to jail for tax fraud. Now...
  11. 1 2 STEINBERG, JACQUES. "Papers Show Greed, Calculation and Betrayal in Stew Leonard Fraud Case". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  12. Thompson Ainsworth, Richard. "Zappers: Technology-Assisted Tax Fraud, SSUTA, and the Encryption Solutions". The American Barr Association. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  13. Lavoie, Denise. "Prominent Entrepreneur Pleads Guilty to Massive Tax Fraud". Associated Press News Archive. Associated Press. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  14. Steinberg, Jaques. "Connecticut Store Owner Sentenced in Tax Fraud". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  15. Whitford, David. "Back From The Brink". CNN Money. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  16. Gattuso, Greg. "STEW LEONARD SR. LEAVES PRISON". Supermarket News. Retrieved 25 January 2016.

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